Funeral for slain Wisconsin sheriff’s deputy draws 3,000 mourners

HUDSON, Wis. (AP) — Some 1,500 law enforcement officers from several states were among 3,000 mourners paying final respects Friday to a Wisconsin sheriff’s deputy who was fatally shot by a suspected drunken driver during a traffic stop.

The funeral for St. Croix County Sheriff’s Deputy Kaitlin “Kaitie” R. Leising was held in the gymnasium of Hudson High School while a montage of photos from her life were shown on a large screen overhead. Leising’s family, including her wife, Courtney, and their 3-month-old son, Syler, stood to the side of the casket, hugging visitors.

In less than a year with the sheriff’s office, Leising earned commendations and the admiration of her colleagues, Sheriff Scott Knudson said.

“There was so much to like about Kaitie,” he said, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

Services lasted more than six hours as officers first arrived for three hours of visitation, then sat for the funeral before silently marching to the high school parking lot for an honor guard, gun salute and helicopter flyover. A law enforcement procession drove the casket to a private gathering of family in Baldwin, Wisconsin.

Courtney Leising said she was “completely heartbroken” that their son will grow up without Kaitlin. Leising’s sister, Jordyn Stevens, remembered her as inspiring and confident, with a competitive streak that went beyond golf and basketball to board games and cribbage.

Mourners included a large delegation from the Pennington County, South Dakota, Sheriff’s Office, where Leising worked before moving to St. Croix County last year.

Leising, 29, was slain May 6 in Glenwood, about 60 miles (97 kilometers) east of Minneapolis. Leising and the driver she pulled over, Jeremiah Johnson, were discussing field sobriety tests when he drew a handgun and shot her, the Wisconsin Department of Justice has said. She discharged her weapon three times, but none of the rounds hit Johnson before he fled to a nearby wooded area. Leising was pronounced dead at a hospital.

An hour after the shooting, an officer heard a gunshot in the woods. Johnson, 34, killed himself, investigators said.

Leising’s death was the third fatal shooting of an on-duty law enforcement officer in western Wisconsin in a month, the Star Tribune reported.